Chapter Four

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"Tía, all is set! We'll be flying to El Paso tomorrow night. Miguel will be driving us to Don Sebas' ranch around seven-thirty, and Alejandro will take us to a private airport," I explain to Lupe as she wanders into my room. I've kept myself busy trying to decide what clothes I'll pack for our one-way trip. Nerves start bubbling inside me, but years of mastering my stoic face don't let the woman who has taken care of me so devotedly notice the increasing fear running through my veins. The exact fear that right now is mercilessly making me doubt my decision to leave it all behind.

I continue walking back and forth the short distance between my dresser and my bed. My medium-sized backpack is filling up quickly with clothes and other personal items. 

I wait. And wait. Not one single word comes out from my aunt's lips.

Lupe's lack of response propels the doubts I've tried to bury six feet under to resurface. Should we stay? Should we go? Will we make it alive? If we make it, then ... what? Will uncle Diego really help us, or is he another liar and will he also abandon us to our luck? These questions keep striking relentlessly in my tumultuous mind, making me suddenly feel lightheaded.

The heat is excruciating today. My shivering hands are sweating and I dry them against my knee-length jean skirt. The floor fan oscillates and, in spite of its constant shot of cool breeze, my cheeks are burning. They're pink, almost red, but it's not the hot and humid weather affecting me. I know Lupe enough to see that she feels the same turmoil rolling inside her. The best way to show her that everything is under control and there's nothing to worry about is by avoiding eye contact.

"We won't be able to take much with us," I continue, my eyes still fixed on the task at hand. "Is your Comadre taking care of the house? Does she understand that she can't tell anyone anything about us? At least for now?" I ask nonchalantly.

"Yes, Marife. I talked to her." Her voice is barely audible. "Are we taking a plane?"

"A small plane. It's easier, quicker, and safer than crossing the border on foot. After what happened to Juancho, it's better to not take unnecessary risks."

"Okay." Lupe's deflated voice hangs in the air. This is probably the most difficult decision my aunt has had to make in her life. She's still young at forty-one years old, but I'm asking her to leave her home, her friends, and her country behind for a country with a different language and culture and, if that by itself wasn't enough, we will need to start from zero. Tía is the one losing it all and, truthfully, our future is nothing but uncertain.

"Lupe," I hesitate for a moment, sighing as I stop folding clothes, and look at her. I lean back on my bed and do my best to show her my empathy and understanding. "I know all of this is scary but if it helps to make you feel better, I chose Alejandro after asking lots of questions to many people. I'm not stupid. This guy has been in the business for almost two decades. His father was a Coyote, too. He knows what he's doing and he'll keep us safe.

"However, I won't lie to you or hold any piece of information I have," I pause, looking for the best choice of words to deliver the rest of the news. "Seems that rumors are true and narcos are taking control over the Coyote's businesses, forcing them to pay fees for allowing them to cross immigrants through the border." I grimace at the danger intrinsic in this inexorable truth. Everything changed in the nineties; this is not a family business for them anymore.

"Ay, Virgencita de la Guadalupe ... Narcos?" She gasps for air. Lupe's almond-shaped eyes and mouth are left wide in horror.

"Tía! Please, calm down and listen to me!" I command her. "Miguel has been helping me to investigate, and he assured me that Alejandro is not a drug dealer. And I believe him, Tía." I may be nervous about what is going to happen, but not in regards to Alejandro. I feel confident. As confident as anyone can be.

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